Let me just start by saying, to any children reading this, that smoking isn’t cool. It smells bad, causes health problems and is an all-around nasty habit.
I used to smoke cigarettes in high school, half because I was in that sweet spot age of rebellion where you’re old enough to have some semblance of responsibility and autonomy (but young enough to not have real responsibilities or incur the negative effects of one’s life choices).
The other reason I did it was because a lot of the older kids I hung around did as well, ie: peer pressure.
Quitting was something else though. I can’t even imagine what it would be like cutting the habit for a lifetime smoker, as even my teenage self took seven or eight times before I was successful in butting out for good.
The trick that worked for me? To accept my addiction instead of trying to erase it. Instead of trying to make myself unaddicted to cigarettes, I accepted the addiction existed and tried to replace it with a healthier one: food and work.
Ironically it was the kitchen — the very source of many teenagers’ smoking habits — that allowed me to kick mine. Something about the fast-paced, sweaty environment was perfect for me: I could do a 10-hour shift and it would feel like four hours. Instead of cigarettes, I would go for food breaks: everything from the medium-well steak the customer sent back to the incredible croque monsieurs the sous-chef would make me whenever he was working.
A remember a friend of mine — let’s call him Mike — was the first person to ever mention vaping nicotine-based products to me. It was a few years before I started university, so I would place it in the ~late 2010 to 2011 era.
In the early days of vaping, there was no debate over the health effects or accessibility to minors.
Instead, you basically had two different types of smokers: the obnoxious ones and the ones who wanted to quit.
Let’s back up here a bit, because there’s a lot of misinformation out there about vaping.
First things first: vape juices can contain amounts of nicotine ranging from none to multiple times higher than found in a cigarette (traditionally 50mg/mL or less, however users can dilute their own nicotine meaning higher concentrations are hypothetically possible).
If I had a dollar for every time I had heard there is no such thing as nicotine-free vape juice, I’d probably have around $50. There is. Perhaps it’s not used as much as nicotine-laden juices, but the suggestion it doesn’t exist is at best misinformation and at worst a concerted effort to promote falsities about vaping and nicotine.
Let’s also talk about all these “vape-related” illnesses and rise of popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans) in vapers.
Virtually all documented individuals exhibiting vaping-related illnesses used black market, THC-laden juices, specifically THC juices that contain one alpha-Tocopheryl acetate (also known as vitamin E acetate) which cannot legally be added to approved Canadian vaporizer products.
An analysis published in December 2019 by the New England Journal of Medicine found the synthetic form of vitamin E in 48 out of 51 lung tissue samples of individuals exhibiting vaping-related lung injury.
In fact, the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is so confident the outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries can be traced to vitamin E acetate, their deputy director Anne Schuchat was recently quoted as saying just that.
In short, vapes are causing illnesses. It is an epidemic. But to suggest nicotine-laden juice is the culprit is an oversimplification of the facts.
Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t vape nicotine if you aren’t addicted to it. People who vape THC-less, nictotine-less juices are silly: why would you put a bunch of relatively-misunderstood chemicals into your body if you aren’t getting something out of it?
I have no (current) horse in this race. I have (literally) never vaped any sort of juice, nicotine or otherwise, in my life. I probably never will. But when I think back on that year or so I failed at quitting smoking half a dozen times, I can’t help but wonder if the oral fixation element of a vaporizer would have been the little extra bit I needed to help me beat my addiction.
So while I am not the sort of guy who thinks vaping should become some big, new fad we push to kids, I also am not in the camp who thinks we should be shaming cigarette smokers (many of which are still teenagers) for trying to replace their unhealthy habit with a markedly less unhealthy one.
That’s just blowing smoke (sorry, vapour).